Are Silicone Baby Products Safer than Plastic for Weaning?
Plastic is not a favourable option for parents who want to limit their children's toxic exposure. You may be asking yourself, which alternatives are the safest. For baby bottles, glass and metal both work well, but when it comes to plates, cups, and travel utensils for meals, it might be challenging to resist the simplicity of shatterproof plastic. A new generation of eco-entrepreneurs is producing baby gear out of silicone that is safe for consumption. Keep reading to learn why silicone is the best option for keeping your baby safe during meal time.
What is Silicone?Silica, a naturally occurring mineral present in sand, is the source of silicone. Sand is an appropriate beginning point for a sustainable material because it is the second most prevalent element in the Earth's crust.
Silicon is usually found in silica sand which is harvested from the sand found deep in the Earth’s crust. Once the raw silica sand is harvested, it goes through a manufacturing process that changes it from its raw form to the silica used to manufacture silicone.
The process of transforming the silica is semi-complex, but the end result is that the silica is transformed into a non-toxic polymer called silicone which can be formed into any shape needed. Plastic, on the other hand, is made from various toxic chemicals that you may have heard of before in the form of BPA or BPS. That is why mothers tend to prefer BPA-free plastics for their children.
Silicone can also have different beginnings in the form of liquid silicone or solid silicone. One is more flexible, and one is less flexible since one starts as a liquid. While solid silicone generates more opaque items and liquid silicone produces more transparent ones, both materials are secure, heat-resistant, and reusable.
Is Silicone Better Than Plastic for Babies?
Food-grade silicone is a non-toxic material primarily manufactured from silica, although it is not a 100% natural substance like rubber. Unlike plastics, which contaminate food in certain conditions, they can resist heating and freezing without leaching or off-gassing dangerous chemicals. Additionally, it resists odours and stains, is hypoallergenic, and is simple to clean because of its smooth surface. This makes it the ideal material for eco-friendly and non-toxic infant items, in particular, as it is soft rubber that won't break.
Food-grade silicone can be a secure and practical replacement for plastic. It is convenient for snack containers, bibs, mats, protective sleeves, and bath toys because of its flexibility, lightweight, ease of cleaning, and hygienic and hypoallergenic qualities (it has no open pores to host bacteria).
Even though some people prefer natural rubber for pacifiers and teethers, silicone has a good reputation for being safe to use in infant bottle nipples, pacifiers, and teethers.
Platinum Cured Silicone vs. Standard Silicone
When it comes to silicone, there are several levels of quality, just like with other materials. Petrochemicals or plastic fillers are frequently found in low-grade silicone, which negates the advantages of silicone. We advise using only silicone labeled as food grade or above. These grades go through rigorous processing to remove impurities. You may also run into the terms LFGB silicone, premium grade silicone, and medical grade silicone.
Platinum or peroxide are used to cure (also known as bind together) silicone. Peroxide curing is the most economical method, but it requires fillers, and the finished product contains impurities and byproducts, much like plastic. Peroxide is used to cure silicones that are common and food-grade. The silicone that results from platinum curing is cleaner and purer and doesn't include any fillers or byproducts, but it is more expensive. Platinum is used to cure silicones of a medical grade.
It's also crucial to look for certifications to confirm the safety of your silicone items. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) and the LFBG, Germany's equivalent to our FDA, are two of the most prominent certifications. When silicone items bear the "fork and knife" sign, they have undergone the world's most stringent certification process, administered by LFBG. LFBG evaluates silicone resin as part of the silicone testing procedure to ensure that it won't contaminate food.
Methods for Differentiating Between FDA and Normal Silicone
Silica gel is separated into regular silica gel and food-grade silica gel during the silicone manufacturing process. Compared to standard silicone, the latter is more expensive and of superior quality. Unfortunately, some dishonest companies may create food products using regular silica gel to reduce production costs. Because they don't adhere to food safety regulations, such items frequently endanger human health. Fortunately, there are techniques to tell silicone from plastic, and you can also tell food-grade silicone from regular silicone.
Smell the silicone product you just picked up. Ordinary silicone will always have a strong smell. While some brand-new products made of food-grade silicone could have a slight odour, it will eventually disappear. You can speed up this process by dipping it in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water.
Food-grade silicone is incredibly durable and silky to the touch. A regular silicone product, however, will readily distort and feel abrasive to the touch.
Benefits of Silicone Over Plastic
All materials have advantages and disadvantages, but from what we can discern, silicone has numerous advantages over plastic.
It doesn't include any harmful chemicals eventually becomes odourless and is always non-toxic.
Food-grade silicone is made without the use of toxic chemicals that could leach into your baby's food. Products certified by the FDA and LFGB, including platinum-cured silicone, are of the highest quality and the safest for your baby.
Produced from a plentiful natural resource
Silicone is produced from silica, a natural resource abundant on the planet. This means the silicone products you purchase are coming from sources that don’t have significant effects on the environment or the people living in the areas where the materials are being harvested and manufactured at.
It is quite robust in both cold and heat environments
Silicone has been proven to work well in cold and heat, making it perfect for baby products that hold or touch food. It is highly stable and exhibits negligible thermal conductivity at high temperatures. That means that it doesn't melt or lose its structure.
Flexible and lightweight for portability and ease of use
Overall, silicone is a very light, flexible material, making it great for baby products that need to be taken with you outside the house. Because it's flexible, silicone can be placed into smaller spaces like bags or pockets without the worry of it losing its shape. Its lightweight properties also make it easier for infants to hold and handle while learning to use their utensils during meal time.
Environmentally friendly in production and waste minimization
Not being biodegradable is not altogether a bad thing for silicone. As plastics break down, they frequently release tiny pieces of plastic pollution into the environment that are detrimental to our animals and marine life. Silicone won't break down; therefore, it won't end up in the stomachs of birds and other sea life.
Clean and simple to maintain over the long-term
Silicone can survive extraordinarily high or low temperatures, repel water, withstand UV radiation, and seldom interact with other elements. This makes keeping it clean a breeze! High-quality silicone won’t stain and is easy to clean with warm water and soap. This means you can easily keep your baby’s silicone products clean without using harsh chemicals like bleach or cleaning products.
Can be recycled into other products
Silicone can be recycled several times. But similar to flexible plastics and rubbers, only specialized recycling facilities can recycle them. Silicone may be recycled to create rubberized goods like playground mats and road bases. It can also be converted into lower-value products like oils and lubricants.
Silicone Products We Recommend
Now that you know all about silicone baby products and why they are the right choice for your child, where do you look? Finding quality silicone might seem daunting given all the products marketed as high-quality, safe silicone, but that are cheaply made.
Here at Mommy’s Ark, all of our collections carry these safe and durable products to help keep your baby safe. Mommy’s Ark is a Canadian baby brand that is known for its minimalistic and practical baby essentials. We have a range of silicone baby products, from silicone bibs to sippy cups.
You can also find silicone baby products at places like Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, but we recommend researching first to ensure you purchase quality products.
Silicone can be a safe, aesthetic alternative to plastic or other toxic materials that these products usually come in. By switching to silicone, you can help protect your baby from harmful chemicals while making a smart choice for the environment.